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Trapezing from One Hold to the Next

06/25/2020 10:18:30 AM


It’s usually just we rabbis who are fretting over the high holidays in June. However, that is definitely not the case today, at least for quite a few people in the Jewish community, locally and nationwide. I haven’t been following this in countries like England or Israel, but I know that the questions of the where, when and how of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur this year have been filling quite a few articles, congregational newsletters and online banter.  Of course we too are focusing a lot of attention on this subject.  More than just the question of logistics, this seems to be very much central to people’s thoughts, because so much of our lives feels uniquely unstable and incredibly difficult to predict. 

Allow me to start by saying, Shma Koleinu is as committed as we’ve ever been to mounting a creatively meaningful, musically engaging, and mindfully spiritual experience over the Yamim Noraim, the 10 days of awe.  As you know, our congregation is rather unique in that we have not had to struggle with the question of the utilization of our building, because of course we do not have one!  And I remain quite proud of what we have accomplished and built online over the past three months. Hopefully you have participated in real time or after the fact, in some of the many innovative virtual experiences we have created.  Since March 13, we have held:

  • 15 on-line Shabbat services with soloists from Manhattan, McKinney, Chicago, and right here in Houston. 
  • 50+ “10@Noon” sessions with 12+ different soloists in more than 5 states.
  • Many group shmooze calls.
  • Kosher Pretzel online.
  • Not to mention our Originally produced Passover Seder Video, Journey and Shabbat morning Torah studies online, etc…

I have been moved by your feedback that these offerings have helped navigate this “Age of COVID-19.”  Moreover, this moment in our nation’s story has become all the more intensified by the ubiquitousness of racial violence throughout our country.  Often, these days feel like an intense wake-up call to behold a society that just isn’t functioning to the best of its ability.  This is indeed the call of OUR Prophets.  Whether the Prophet Micah calling upon us to do justice, to love mercy and to live with humility, or the Prophet Isaiah, whose words echo to us every Yom Kippur as he harangues us for our over-focus on ritual and symbolism to the detriment of the real human pain in our midst, or the Prophetess Miriam, who calls upon us to raise up our voices in celebration and song.  Even in the face of the most daunting challenges in life, the primary goal of our tradition is to circle back, hear and feel these voices as they reverberate through our bones. 

As these prophetic voices all the more so call upon each of us this year, Shma Koleinu promises to provide you with a robust and inspiring High Holy Days, that will assuredly be available via an incredibly engaging live stream.  We are still grappling with the other possibilities and we promise to share the news with our community as soon as possible!  But please know that no matter which directions we pursue, Hannah Madeleine Goodman, the Leadership Team and I are committed to a High Holy Day experience that will bring us peace, joy, reflection and calls to action.

Sun, July 12 2020 20 Tammuz 5780